Senator Susan Collins is taking issue with President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, calling it “very uneven” as she struggles to maintain approval in her home state of Maine ahead of her reelection bid this November.
“It’s been very uneven. There are times when I think his message has been spot on and he has really deferred to the public health officials who have been with him at these press conferences,” Collins told Politico. “And then there are times when I think he’s been off message and has brought up extraneous issues. So I think it’s been mixed.”
The Maine Republican, who has not yet indicated whether she will endorse Trump for reelection, continued that “when he stays on message it’s helpful.”
“But when he gets off message or brings up issues that have nothing to do with the coronavirus, it is not reassuring to the American people,” she added.
Collins, who is known for crossing party lines on major issues, is nevertheless siding with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and her own party in their efforts to replenish the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program to the tune of $250 billion. Democrats have blocked McConnell’s proposal, demanding another $250 billion for states and hospitals.
Collins has agreed with Democrats that employers and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan fund should be aided but recommended focusing on the Paycheck Protection Program now and waiting until May to handle those additional stimulus issues. The existing Paycheck Protection funds are expected to be depleted by the end of the week.
“We are going to deplete the $349 billion, and we’ve essentially already depleted the funding for the EIDL program,” she said. “All these programs are important, but if you look at where the urgency is, it seems to me it’s in replenishing these two programs.”
Collins was hit with attack ads earlier this year in Maine during the Senate presidential impeachment trial, when she voted along party lines with McConnell to approve his resolution outlining rules for the trial.
“Senator Collins, you aren’t doing the job we elected you to do,” an ad by the Lincoln Project stated at the time. “You’re a senator. Act like it.”
Meanwhile, Collins has struggled to keep her approval numbers afloat. A survey released Monday by the Bangor Daily News found that 37 percent of Maine voters approve of the job Collins has done as senator while 52 percent disapprove.